My husband and I never really wanted a wedding. Certainly not a traditional one. When we first got engaged, we had several long discussions about whether or not to elope and avoid the party aspect altogether. We finally decided to go ahead and throw a small party, but with one overarching principle:
We were going to do the whole thing ourselves.
Now, this didn't mean DIY in the over-the-top sense. I'm not super-crafty, and had no plans to stay up to all hours making paper flowers or whatever. What it meant was that first, we weren't taking money from everyone. Even if our parents threw a stack of cash at our heads, we would punt it back, because we did not want any of the wedding demands that taking money from family usually resulted in.
Second, we weren't going to buy anything we didn't want, or that we couldn't (reasonably) do ourselves. That meant public park, no flowers or crazy decor, me making the wedding cake and appetizers, etc. Easy, right?
We didn't want to owe anyone anything, so we planned something low-key and manageable that we could totally DIY.
Then all of a sudden it was the day of the wedding. At 9am, our friends showed up. We didn't ask them — they just did. They hauled 12 tables and 70 chairs out of the basement of our venue. They cut up all the cheese and vegetables for the appetizers. They finished decorating the beanbags for the custom cornhole set that I'd painted. They taped table cloths to the tables, put globes and candles all over them, helped my husband string up all the lights, went out and bought more icing when my homemade icing didn't work out, bought more ice, bought more beer, made two salads and two types of cookies, paid the tip to my hairstylist when I found out they didn't do credit card tips, set up all the drinks, cut and served the cake, grabbed my mom and steered her away from my dad so they wouldn't kill each other, kept bringing me glasses of wine and continually chased me away when they saw me trying to work.
Then they were there with us until 11pm packing, hauling, sweeping, wrapping food, and drinking the last of the booze until the bitter end. Some friends had already volunteered to help out, but others just pitched in randomly, like my friend's husband who took it upon himself to go buy more wine mid-ceremony, or my friend from six states away whom I hadn't seen in a year who decided to wash every last dirty dish.
But I realized that for every one of my friends who was married, I'd been at their wedding, too. I'd been up until 1am coloring in blue felt flowers for their bouquet, or helping them to pee, or washing BBQ sauce out of their dress, or steering their mom away from their dad so they wouldn't kill each other, or simply watching while they jumped up and down and yelled “Holy shit, I'm married!” in the bathroom.
This wasn't a favor to me; it was just what we've all been doing for each other since time immemorial. How could I have possibly thought they'd let us do a wedding by ourselves?
The flaw in our DIY system, I found, was the Y. There was no Y in our wedding, but there was definitely a “WE.”